As the face of the United States becomes more diverse, it is imperative that institutions of higher education increase the number of PhDs awarded to students who are members of underrepresented minority groups. The University of Colorado at Denver (UC-Denver) is committed to this goal and is in an excellent position to enhance and intensify its training of undergraduate students to foster diversity not only in the PhD workforce in higher education, but also in research beyond the University setting. This MARC U*STAR program application supports these efforts by providing intensive interdisciplinary curricular and research training for 25 URM students during the last two years of their undergraduate education that will enable them to enter PhD programs in basic and applied behavioral science and pursue research careers in these fields. The regional and local demographics of UC Denver along with the rapid expansion of research in the behavioral sciences and an already thriving undergraduate program provide a strong foundation for building the proposed MARC U*STAR Scholars program in behavioral sciences. The proposed program features a new series of courses in the methodology and ethics of behavioral and health science research as well as on and off- campus research experiences that will provide the strong academic and experiential foundation necessary for students to gain entrance into and succeed in PhD programs. Importantly, these activities leverage other minority training programs at UC Denver to expand an institutional culture that supports the success of minority students and their entrance into graduate education in the sciences. The MARC program, which builds on existing interdisciplinary degree programs in Psychology and Public Health, enjoys strong institutional support and holds the potential to be transformational for the climate of diversity and inclusion at UC Denver.
The UC Denver MARC U*STAR Scholars program prepares URM students for graduate school in behavioral and health science research through experiential in-class learning and on and off-campus research experiences. Diversity in the PhD workforce in both the higher education and research settings will contribute to biomedical and behavioral advances;to economic growth in a global, knowledge-based economy and;to addressing the needs of minority communities regarding basic and clinical health-related research. Interdisciplinary training is essential for developing scientists who are prepared to address the complex ways in which health status and outcomes relate to multiple factors.